Saturday, June 25, 2016


     I know, I know: everyone’s talking about the “Brexit.” Everyone else, that is. I try to let such things age in their casks for a day or two before I comment on them. The results usually please me more than what I expect my initial reaction would have produced had I acted on it.

     Read on and decide whether you agree.

     The European Union was a partially foreseen consequence of the aftermath of World War II. Its zygote formed as Europeans, their continent largely laid waste by the war, looked upon their savior, the United States, and pondered the advantages that might accrue to them via a comparable union. Though America had mobilized as completely as any of the Old World combatants, it had emerged from the war in far better shape, able to lend substantial financial assistance to a Europe struggling to rebuild.

     The first of the large-scale consequences was the European Economic Community, also known as the Common Market, which lowered trade and tariff barriers among its participants and provided for greater ease of travel among them as well. Over time, non-economic provisions and further members were added to the original agreement. However, the benefits were always less than had been hoped, owing to the member nations’ unwillingness to enter completely into the spirit of the agreement.

     Ambitious politicians eager for wider powers envisioned a complete political integration of the continent almost from the first. In this they were at odds with the peoples of their nations, which preferred to retain the national identities that such integration would threaten. But politicians being what they are, they contrived to impose the 1993 Maastricht Treaty, the Amsterdam Treaty,, the Treaty of Nice, and the 2007 Treaty of Lisbon, which formalized a political European Union, on their nations by one device after another. This included compelling “rematch” referenda upon their nations when previous referenda had rejected submergence in the EU.

     Twenty-three years of “European integration” have passed, and the Old World appears more fragmented than ever. Parallels to the rising sectionalism of the pre-Civil War United States have not been missed.

     The pro-EU propaganda spread about prior to the various national referenda were heavy with hyperbole. Many suggested that the alternative was another continent-devouring war:

     With the new constitution flailing in most polls, the Dutch government is being rather vicious already. Bernard Bot, the foreign minister, dismisses the electorate's objections as "a lot of irrational reaction". Piet-Hein Donner, the justice minister, warns that Europe will go the way of Helga's orchestra if the constitution is rejected. "Yugoslavia was more integrated than the Union is now," he points out, "but bad will and the inability to stifle hidden irritations and rivalry led in a short time to war."

     Scornful of such piffling analogies, the prime minister, Jan-Peter Balkenende, thinks a Balkan end is the least of their worries. "I've been in Auschwitz and Yad Vashem," he says. "The images haunt me every day. It is supremely important for us to avoid such things in Europe."

     At the Theresienstadt (or Terezin) concentration camp in the Czech Republic, Sweden's European Commissioner, Margot Wallstrom, declared: "There are those who want to scrap the supranational idea. They want the European Union to go back to the old purely inter-governmental way of doing things. I say those people should come to Terezin and see where that old road leads."

     What’s that you say? There was no middle course available between a fresh Holocaust and the submergence of the individual nations of Europe into a continent-wide superstate? Apparently many Europeans rejected that notion. But the politicians bent upon EUnification would not be balked by any degree of resistance:

     “If it's a Yes, we will say 'on we go', and if it's a No we will say 'we continue’... We decide on something, leave it lying around, and wait and see what happens. If no one kicks up a fuss, because most people don't understand what has been decided, we continue step by step until there is no turning back. ” – EU president Jean-Claude Juncker
     It was a crucial mistake to send out the entire constitution to every French voter, the architect of the EU's first constitution ValĂ©ry Giscard d'Estaing has said in an interview.

     In an interview with the New York Times, his first since the French rejection of the constitution two weeks ago, the former French president apportions most of the blame to president Jacques Chirac for failure in the referendum campaign.

     One crucial mistake was to send out the entire three-part, 448-article document to every French voter, said Mr Giscard.

     Over the phone he had warned Mr Chirac already in March: "I said, 'Don't do it, don't do it'".

     "It is not possible for anyone to understand the full text". -- The EUobserver, “Giscard regrets constitution sent to French people.”

     Could it be clearer that the EUrocrats were determined to have their way no matter what their subjects might think?

     Enthusiasm for superstates has almost always been confined to the political and cultural elites – in my estimation, persons more interested in their own power and prestige than anything else. Yet some very intelligent men, including George Bernard Shaw, Bertrand Russell, and James Blish, have felt that there was no other “solution” to Mankind’s interminable quarrels. It took a thinker more familiar with facts and more comfortable with reasoning to point out the shortcomings:

     I believe that even a poor world government might be preferable to an uncontrolled arms race. I also believe that the practical difficulties are so large that it is a digression to dwell on such possibilities as a possible solution for the problems of the sixties....It is the hallmark of the amateur and dilettante that he has alomost no interest in how to get to his particular utopia. Perhaps this is because the practical job of finding a path may be more difficult than the job of designing the goal. -- Herman Kahn, On Thermonuclear War
     It is generally acknowledged that in the unlikely event nuclear weapons did become generally unavailable, a nation that retained even a single weapon would represent a terrible threat to the rest of the world. Consequently, some supporters of disarmament simultaneously support a world government that would have a monopoly on nuclear weapons. The practical problems of this alternative, namely the possibility that such a government could itself become oppressive, or could be taken over by an oppressive group, are rarely considered. -- Herman Kahn, Thinking About The Unthinkable in the 1980s

     Of course, the lure of power unbounded by rights or national borders will always appeal to the politically ambitious. It is these who are most ardent for superstates, including constructions such as the EU. But historical evidence suggests powerfully that such states are merely short-term precursors to galacticization:

     A system with positive feedback embedded in its guts behaves much like a system dominated by gravity. A system of masses ruled by unopposed gravity will compress at an exponential rate; the pressures that ultimately result will cause it to explode. The higher the peak pressure, the greater the bang – and the politics of the Left has already put American society, the American economy, and the American psyche under enormous pressure.

     If we look objectively at the stresses acting upon these United States after a century and a half of relentless centralization of power in Washington, we might easily conclude that we’re headed in the same direction as the slowly dissolving EU. Several states are alive with talk of secession, despite the results of the Civil War and the inevitable reaction of the federal government. Given the most recent attempts of our federal mandarins to remake the population itself via mass immigration, such talk can no longer be lightly dismissed.

     Oppressions, whether willful or the fruit of policy missteps, when imposed on a nation of hundreds of millions will engender a more violent backlash than the same errors on a smaller scale. So it is for Europe...and possibly for America as well:

     “You wanted to re-establish the centralized state, didn’t you? Did you ever stop to think that maybe feudalism is what suits man? Some one place to call our own, and belong to, and be part of; a community with traditions and honor; a chance for the individual to make decisions that count; a bulwark for liberty against the central overlords, who’ll always want more and more power; a thousand different ways to live. We’ve always built supercountries, here on Earth, and we’ve always knocked them apart again. I think maybe the whole idea is wrong. And maybe this time we’ll try something better. Why not a world of little states, too well rooted to dissolve in a nation, too small to do much harm—slowly rising above petty jealousies and spite, but keeping their identities—a thousand separate approaches to our problems. Maybe then we can solve a few of them...for ourselves!”

     The Founding Fathers understood this. (Yes, even the ones who wanted an all-powerful, unopposable central government.) Perhaps in the sweet rushing fullness of time, the European political elite – and ours – will come to understand it, too.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said, gentle author.